Oregon Sick Time, Paid Leave Oregon And Emergencies – Part II

Updated: Oct 3

09/22/2022

Author: Stephanie L. Leffler, SPHR

Oregon Sick Time, Paid Leave Oregon And Emergencies – Part II

Our post provides further details, guidance and resources to navigate the complex leave laws that apply to most OR employers. We will touch briefly on OR Sick leave and OR Saves. Fall and the changing of the seasons is what I enjoy the most about Oregon. Fall holds the promise of something new as plants change their colors, temperatures drop and hopefully raindrops fall. This season brings us closer to the end of the year and compliance with the Paid Leave Oregon (PLO) Program. This blog will focus heavily on PLO.


Last but not least, the end of the year is a great time to shift your safety focus to preparation for emergencies and winter safety. Missed it? Read The Blog Part I. GourmetHR has been monitoring the PLO program and attending the State sponsored information meetings. Stay tuned for our FAQ sheet specific to the PLO program.


OR Sick Leave: All Oregon employers with 10 or more (6 or more in Portland) employees and those with out of state employers with employees who reside in Oregon should already be accruing or front-loading Oregon Sick Time. Be sure to report to your employees their sick balance on a regular basis. The best practice is on their paycheck. Smaller employers can decide to follow the program even if not required to participate.


OR Saves: Every Oregon employer should be signed up and participating in the OR Saves or an equivalent program. Their website guides you through the sign up process. Contact us if you need assistance. Note: The only exception is employers with four or less employees. Those employers have until March 01, 2023. If the owner receives a W-2 they are part of the count.

Paid Leave Oregon (PLO) Program:

PLO provides 12 weeks (14 weeks for some pregnancy related issues) of paid leave to assist Oregonians who experience important life events such as family, medical and leave related to stalking and domestic violence (safe leave).


Twelve other states offer similar programs. If your business is impacted by other paid leave laws, seek out professional support to navigate and obtain the best tax incentives.

ORS 659A.159 provides that an employee to take leave for three reasons, (family, medical and safe). Employers may not impose additional restrictions to prevent the employee from taking leave. For instance, one cannot state any paid leave bank must be used prior to applying for PLO. We learned that Oregon will not delineate nor disclose to employers the reason why an employee takes leave. Rather you will be told if they are approved or not via FRANCES.

Pro Tip: Set up an optional payroll code named “PLO” (paid leave OR) for visibility of time tracking. This is not required as the online system, FRANCES maintains that information. If you are subject to other forms of protected leave such as the Federal Family Medical Leave Act and/or OR Family Leave Act, best practice is to have a policy that all applicable leave types runs concurrently. This is allowed per PLO. Be aware that some leave types are more generous and only apply to the specific events. For example, PLO includes bereavement leave whereas FMLA and OFLA do not. Therfore, balances would differ between leave type.


PLO Who Is A Covered Employer?: Employers include Non-profit organizations, S-Corps and other types of business entities. Exceptions are independent contractors and tribal governments. However, they can choose to opt into the PLO program.

Timeline: The equivalent plan process began this month (September) and to avoid penalties and interest, submit your application by November 30, 2022. The state will be flooded with applications so the sooner you get yours in the better because deductions begin on January 01, 2023.

Contributions:

1% up to $132,900. Anything beyond the $132,900 is not subject to contributions. The amount will be evaluated each year. The employer pays 40% of the 1% tax and employees pay 60%.

The rate is determined each year. Large employers and small employers may opt in. Headcount includes all full, part, seasonal and out of state workers.

Payroll Contribution: Varies between $61.24 to $1469.78. A FT employer would pay $3.24 per week per employee and the employee would contribute $2.16 per week.

Employer Size:


Employers who pay the employer portion are eligible for assistance grants that cover wage related costs include training and wages to pay a replacement employee while the employee is out on PLO. The $1000 may be eligible to pay an employee incentive pay to take on additional tasks while the employee is out.

Job protections apply to both large and small employers.

Who Is A Covered Employee For PLO? Must answer yest to all items.

· Employee has been employed a minimum of 30 calendar days.

· Ensure employee contributions to an equivalent plan are not greater than the cost of the state PLO plan. If they are, adjust the benefit contribution amount.

· Provide benefits that are equal to or greater than Oregon’s plan.


Next Steps:

1. Decide if you will assign a third-party administrator to file payroll reports on your behalf (bookkeeper, payroll, HR, etc.)

2. Determine if you are required to pay the employer portion (25+ employees).

3. If 25 or less employees choose to opt into the employer portion or pay the employee portion.

4. Set up a separate account and line item(s) in your business books (does not have to be a trust account) to account for the employee and in some cases employer and employee deductions.

5. Determine if you are going to track the leave on the employee paycheck. If so, setup the tracking code as “PLO”. You are not required to track each type of leave but may want to if you are large enough to comply with OFLA and FMLA protected leaves.

6. To avoid penalties (TBD) begin making contributions no later than 01/01/2023.

7. Stay tuned for FAQ’s and sign up for updates from the State of Oregon


All employers in Oregon (excluding independent contractors and Federal employers)

Enroll with FRANCES Online where you file payroll taxes, read letters, submit PLO equivalent plan applications and make changes to your business account.

Decide if you are going to participate or submit an equivalent plan. Determine one of the two options for an equivalent plan. Submit your application and pay the fee via FRANCES no later than November 30, 2022.


PLO Important Dates

November 30, 2022 – Sign up and if applicable, submit your equivalant application via FRANCES

Deductions will begin for PLO is January 01, 2023. Employees can apply and use leave as of September 03, 2023.


Who Is A Covered Employee For PLO? Must answer yest to all items. Employee has been employed a minimum of 30 calendar days. Ensure employee contributions to an equivalent plan are not greater than the cost of the state PLO plan. If they are, adjust the benefit contribution amount. Provide benefits that are equal to or greater than Oregon’s plan. PLO Preparation Tips (Employers with 25 or Less Employees):

1. Schedule a benefit analysis meeting. If applicable, plan for your broker to be available for a portion of the meeting to answer questions about equivalent or other benefit plans.

Learn what benefits are taxable or not.

Those with an equivalent plan – Submit your application through FRANCES and detail your equivalent plan.

Evaluate your benefit plan items and possibly offer a private disability plan. Insurance companies in Oregon are working to provide products that are qualified as equivalent plans.

Review the tax burden for each type of benefit.

2.Decide if you will pay the employer PLO taxes to receive the benefit of grants

3.Calculate the cost of paying the employee portion of the tax.

4. Get started with Frances.

5. Submit your application. If you offer paid leave, it must be equivalent, and you must submit an equivalent plan application along with a $250 application fee to the OR Employment Department.

6. Work with payroll or your bookkeeper to set up the applicable payroll deductions.

7. Ensure you are up to date with you labor law posters.

8. Update your employee handbook to include PLO.

9. Authorize employees to take time off.

10. Contact GourmetHR for any questions.

Emergency Planning -

Winter is coming! Now is the time to pick your safety topic and schedule your next safety meeting or in some cases safety minutes. A great topic for Fall is preparing for inclement weather.


Invite a guest speaker such as the police, fire, insurance agent or GourmetHR to discuss preparing for winter weather. Be sure to document your meeting and have an agenda (OSHA requirement).


Suggested agenda:

• Review your inclement weather policy which should include calling in, sending folks home, pay details, etc.

• Slips, trips and falls


Do You Know The Answer?

Scenario: Susie Smartiepants is going to the bank to make the daily employer deposit. She is injured when her motorcycle falls on top of her while dismounting next to the bank. She has been off work for 6 weeks due to severe burns from the exhaust pipe.


Question

Is the event a worker’s comp claim?

Does the employer have the right to terminate Ms. Smartiepants?


Answer:

There is a lot to unpack. For example, what does your policy say about workplace injuries and drug testing? Did the employee trained in accident investigation get notified ASAP so they could conduct an investigation?


Ms. Smartiepants has the right to file a worker’s compensation claim. Employers may add any details to assist the WC carrier with their decision. The employer has three business days to submit the 801 form and any supporting documentation. If the employee sought medical treatment, the health care provider is required to submit an 827 form. Both are first reports of injury forms.


Be very cautious about termination. Unless there was something egregious about the crash, it is not wise to terminate during a WC claim. However, a termination may be warranted in some specific circumstances such as misconduct. Contact HR before carrying out the termination.


Oregon workers compensation and discrimination laws protect employees from being discriminated due to workplace injuries or illnesses. Oregon is an at will state but that does not prevent folks from filing a wrongful termination claim. Treat the employee with dignity and if properly managed, a termination should rarely be a surprise.


Takeaway

· Prepare a “what to do in an accident kit” and place in company vehicles and provide to employees.

· Review and possibly modify your handbook policies about drug testing, inclement/bad weather. Create a checklist about to do in an accident. Your carrier may have one.

· Locate the 801 form and ensure your employees know what to do if they suffer an injury or illness.

· (Employers with 10 or more employees) If applicable, record the injury in your OSHA 300 logs.

· Regularly check in with the employee and try to get them back to work doing light duty ASAP so they do not feel disengaged.